Long considered "the noblest of the senses," vision has increasingly come under critical scrutiny by a wide range of thinkers who question its dominance in Western culture. These critics of vision, especially prominent in twentieth-century France, have challenged its allegedly superior capacity to provide access to the world. They have also criticized its supposed complicity with political and social oppression through the promulgation of spectacle and surveillance. Martin Jay turns to this discourse surrounding vision and explores its often contradictory implications (...) in the work of such influential figures as Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Guy Debord, Luce Irigaray, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida. Jay begins with a discussion of the theory of vision from Plato to Descartes, then considers its role in the French Enlightenment before turning to its status in the culture of modernity. From consideration of French Impressionism to analysis of Georges Bataille and the Surrealists, Roland Barthes's writings on photography, and the film theory of Christian Metz, Jay provides lucid and fair-minded accounts of thinkers and ideas widely known for their difficulty. His book examines the myriad links between the interrogation of vision and the pervasive antihumanist, antimodernist, and counter-enlightenment tenor of much recent French thought. Refusing, however, to defend the dominant visual order, he calls instead for a plurality of "scopic regimes." Certain to generate controversy and discussion throughout the humanities and social sciences, _Downcast Eyes_ will consolidate Jay's reputation as one of today's premier cultural and intellectual historians. (shrink)
Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Franz Neumann, Theodor Adorno, Leo Lowenthal—the impact of the Frankfurt School on the sociological, political, and cultural thought of the twentieth century has been profound. _The Dialectical Imagination_ is a major history of this monumental cultural and intellectual enterprise during its early years in Germany and in the United States. Martin Jay has provided a substantial new preface for this edition, in which he reflects on the continuing relevance of the work of the Frankfurt (...) School. (shrink)
Few words in both everyday parlance and theoretical discourse have been as rhapsodically defended or as fervently resisted as "experience." Yet, to date, there have been no comprehensive studies of how the concept of experience has evolved over time and why so many thinkers in so many different traditions have been compelled to understand it. _Songs of Experience _is a remarkable history of Western ideas about the nature of human experience written by one of our best-known intellectual historians. With its (...) sweeping historical reach and lucid comparative analysis—qualities that have made Martin Jay's previous books so distinctive and so successful—_Songs of Experience _explores Western discourse from the sixteenth century to the present, asking why the concept of experience has been such a magnet for controversy. Resisting any single overarching narrative, Jay discovers themes and patterns that transcend individuals and particular schools of thought and illuminate the entire spectrum of intellectual history. As he explores the manifold contexts for understanding experience—epistemological, religious, aesthetic, political, and historical—Jay engages an exceptionally broad range of European and American traditions and thinkers from the American pragmatists and British Marxist humanists to the Frankfurt School and the French poststructuralists, and he delves into the thought of individual philosophers as well, including Montaigne, Bacon, Locke, Hume and Kant, Oakeshott, Collingwood, and Ankersmit. Provocative, engaging, erudite, this key work will be an essential source for anyone who joins the ongoing debate about the material, linguistic, cultural, and theoretical meaning of "experience" in modern cultures. (shrink)
There is no more contentious and perennial issue in the history of modern Western thought than the vexed relationship between the genesis of an idea and its claim to validity beyond it. Can ideas or values transcend their temporal origins and overcome the sin of their original context, and in so doing earn abiding respect for their intrinsic merit? Or do they inevitably reflect them in ways that undermine their universal aspirations? Are discrete contexts so incommensurable and unique that the (...) smooth passage of ideas from one to the other is impossible? Are we always trapped by the limits of our own cultural standpoints and partial perspectives, or can we somehow escape their constraints and enter into a fruitful dialogue with others? These persistent questions are at the heart of the discipline known as intellectual history, which deals not only with ideas, but also with the men and women who generate, disseminate, and criticize them. The essays in this collection, by one of the most recognized figures in the field, address them through engagement with leading intellectual historians—Hans Blumenberg, Quentin Skinner, Hayden White, Isaiah Berlin, Frank Ankersmit—as well other giants of modern thought—Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Georg Lukács. They touch on a wide variety of related topics, ranging from the heroism of modern life to the ability of photographs to lie. In addition, they explore the fraught connections between philosophy and theory, the truth of history and the truthfulness of historians, and the weaponization of free speech for other purposes. (shrink)
Part I: The sun of reason. From the Greeks to the age of reason -- Kant: reason as critique; the critique of reason -- Hegel and Marx: dialectical reason -- Reason in crisis -- Part II: Reason's eclipse and return. The critique of instrumental reason: Horkheimer, Marcuse, and Adorno -- Habermas and the communicative turn -- Habermas and his critics.
Force Fields collects the recent essays of Martin Jay, an intellectual historian and cultural critic internationally known for his extensive work on the history of Western Marxism and the intellectual migration from Germany to America.
Charts the flight of some of this century's most important thinkers from Nazi Germany to the United States. Jay explores the theories of The Frankfurt School -- among them, the work of Theodor Adorno, Leo Lowenthal and Herbert Marcuse -- as well, such as George Lichtheim, Hannah Arendt, and Henry Pachter.
The underlying assumption of Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness is that “history” can be understood as a unified and meaningful meta-narrative, which can be read along the lines of a realist novel. Although the future is not guaranteed, the present contains “objective possibilities” which can be identified and realized through activist intervention in the world by those who are destined to “make” history, the proletariat. In the intervening century since the Russian Revolution, it has become impossible to read “history” as (...) a singular, triumphalist story leading to human emancipation or identify any one group as its subjective agent. To salvage the revolutionary potential of Lukács’ work, it has been read instead in terms of “fidelity to the Event” by such latter-day Leninists as Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. But their recourse to a meta-historical notion of pre-figuration and future realization is itself no less beholden to a literary or rhetorical device, that of figura, which was traced by Erich Auerbach in originally religious terms. (shrink)
After having promoted and then tacitly abandoned the rhetoric of postmodernism, Zygmunt Bauman settled on the metaphor of a modernity that was growing more ‘liquid’ and ‘lighter’ than before. This essay explores the strengths and weaknesses of these metaphors, and attempts to contextualize Bauman’s insights in what has been called by the historian Yuri Slezkine the ‘Mercurian’ culture of diasporic Jewish life.
Vision and the gaze are key issues in the analysis of racism, sexism and ethnocentrism. In recent radical theory, generally, and French theory in particular, vision has been seen as a means of control. But this view is often unnuanced. It bypasses questions such as: Why is it that contemporary theories have been so critical of vision, and generous towards listening (in psychoanalysis) and language (in philosophy)? This collection of original essays brings together historical studies and contemporary theoretical perspectives on (...) vision. The historical papers focus in turn on Ancient Greece, medieval theology, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century. These historical studies are themselves thoroughly informed by poststructuralist theory. They provide a rigorous background for several new, exciting articles on vision and its bearings for feminism, race, sexual orientation, film and art. This collection is the first of its kind in juxtaposing historical and contemporary. (shrink)
In these original and imaginative essays, delivered as the Tanner Lectures at the University of California, Berkeley in 2005, the philosopher Axel Honneth attempts to rescue the concept of reification by recasting it in terms of the philosophy of recognition he has been developing over the past two decades.
Among Carl Schmitt's most notable and controversial contributions to political theory was his claim that “all the significant concepts of the modern doctrine of the state are secularized theological concepts.” First formulated in 1922 in his Political Theology, this contention remained constant throughout his long career, as evidenced by its return in his Political Theology II, published in 1970. Here Schmitt's Cadtholic background was clearly apparent, for in so arguing, he was recapitulating the familiar topos of biblical prefiguration in which (...) the New Testament was understood as realizing the latent meaning of the Old. Viewing modern politics as merely the secularized version of a prior theology allowed Schmitt to develop his strong notion of the sovereign as a profane divinity with virtually all of the omnipotent attributes of its alleged sacred predecessor. (shrink)
Vision and the gaze are key issues in the analysis of racism, sexism and ethnocentrism. In recent radical theory, generally, and French theory in particular, vision has been seen as a means of control. But this view is often unnuanced. It bypasses questions such as: Why is it that contemporary theories have been so critical of vision, and generous towards listening and language? This collection of original essays brings together historical studies and contemporary theoretical perspectives on vision. The historical papers (...) focus in turn on Ancient Greece, medieval theology, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century. These historical studies are themselves thoroughly informed by poststructuralist theory. They provide a rigorous background for several new, exciting articles on vision and its bearings for feminism, race, sexual orientation, film and art. This collection is the first of its kind in juxtaposing historical and contemporary. (shrink)
This chapter explicates Theodor W. Adorno's dialectical engagement with inauthenticity and genuineness, two of the central tropes of his mature philosophy. The chapter discusses the extent to which Adorno's critique of genuineness in Minima Moralia and elsewhere was itself deeply indebted to Walter Benjamin's defense of mechanical reproduction against the aura and his notion of the mimetic faculty. It quickly becomes apparent that many of his “own” ideas betray precisely the kind of inauthenticity that he defended against the jargon. Or (...) if one wants to rely on his critical use of the term, it shows the non-auratic authenticity of the intellectual who knows himself not to be in full possession of his own ideas. Paradoxically, in his very lack of originality, his reworking without entirely duplicating many of his friend's most arresting ideas, Adorno took upon himself the stigma he urged everyone to embrace. (shrink)
A new collection of essays by the internationally recognized cultural critic and intellectual historian Martin Jay that revolves around the themes of violence and visuality, with essays on the Holocaust and virtual reality, religious violence, the art world, and the Unicorn Killer, among a wide range of other topics.
Formułowane w ostatnim czasie przez postępowych Amerykanów zarzuty wobec cynicznej, konserwatywnej „weaponizacji” wolności słowa trafnie zwracają uwagę na tkwiący w niej aspekt hipokryzji. Przesłankę tych oskarżeń często stanowi jednak wolność słowa rozumiana „absolutystycznie” jako bezwzględne dobro. W istocie należy ją zawsze rozumieć jako coś, co prowadzi do innego celu: mającego wymiar obiektywny, subiektywny bądź intersubiektywny. Najczęstszą funkcją wolności słowa jest tworzenie warunków dla epistemologicznego poszukiwania prawdy. Zwracali na to uwagę liberałowie, tacy jak John Stuart Mill, oraz marksiści, tacy jak Herbert (...) Marcuse – twierdzący, że realizację tego celu utrudnia „represywna tolerancja” dla szkodliwych lub błędnych idei. Wolności słowa można bronić również ze względu na wpisaną w nią możliwość wyrażania indywidualnych opinii i uczuć, bez której nie ma mowy o jednostkowej autonomii. Trzecia funkcja wolności słowa ma charakter performatywny: język może służyć do działania w świecie. Współcześnie najczęściej mówi się w tym kontekście o ograniczaniu „mowy nienawiści” jako aktu przemocy symbolicznej, jednak konsekwencje tak rozumianej wolności słowa mogą być również pozytywne. Czwarty telos wolności wypowiedzi – semantyczny raczej niż epistemologiczny, ekspresywny czy performatywny – to tworzenie nowych znaczeń kulturowych bądź krytyka konwencjonalnych. Ponieważ wolność słowa może służyć jednej lub większej liczbie z tych funkcji, warto jej bronić również w niedoskonałym społeczeństwie, niezależnie od tego (przy całym szacunku dla Marcusego), że nie ma ona wartości bezwzględnej. (shrink)
No contemporary intellectual historian has produced more influential reflections on the historian’s craft than Hayden White and Quentin Skinner, yet their legacy has never been meaningfully compared. Doing so reveals a surprising complementarity in their approach, at least to the extent that Skinner’s stress on recovering the intentionality of authors fits well with White’s observation that irony is the dominant rhetorical mode of historical narrative in our day. Irony itself, to be sure, has to be divided broadly speaking into its (...) dramatic or Socratic variants and the unstable and paradoxical alternative defended by poststructuralist critics. The latter produced in White an anxiety about the anarchistic implications of an allegedly inherent undecidability in historical interpretation and narration, which threatened to conflate history entirely with fiction. By recovering the necessary role of intentionality as a prerequisite for a more moderate version of Socratic and dramatic irony—in which hindsight provides some purchase on a truth denied actors at the time history is made—it is possible to rescue an ironic attitude that can register the frequency of unintended consequences without surrendering to the conclusion that no explanation or interpretation is superior to another. Against yet a third alternative, which tries to reconstruct the past rationally as a prelude to the present, acknowledging the ironic undermining of intentions avoids giving all the power to the contemporary historian and restores a dialogic balance between actors in the past and their present-day interpreters. (shrink)
Both the metaphorology of Hans Blumenberg and negative dialectics of Theodor W. Adorno recognized the value of the “nonconceptual” as an antidote to the tyranny of rational concepts imposed on a reality that was too diverse, contingent, and qualitatively unique to be subsumed under them. But whereas Blumenberg focused on metaphor and myth as rhetorical alternatives to concepts designed to deal with the incomprehensibility of “absolute reality,” Adorno understood nonconceptuality in terms of the material and corporeal limits to cultural constructivism (...) of any kind. He held out hope for a balance between the power of constitutive subjectivity and the resistance of the material world to its sway. (shrink)
Because of his preoccupation with the formal aspects of music and literature, Theodor W. Adorno is often regarded as the most aesthetically oriented thinker of the Frankfurt School theorists. It is Adorno’s perceived commitment to aestheticism—the study of art for art’s sake and the study of art as a source of sensuous pleasure, rather than as a vehicle for culturally constructed morality or meaning—that many scholars have criticized as hostile to genuine, concrete, substantive political, social, and ethical engagement with the (...) arts. _Adorno and Ethics_—the first issue of _New German Critique_ to be published by Duke University Press—takes issue with Adorno’s critics. These essays reconsider Adorno’s unique brand of aestheticism, revealing a “politics of aestheticism” and exploring the political and ethical dimensions of his writings. One contributor links the ethical turn taken in Adorno criticism with related developments in American poetry and poetics. Another examines Adorno’s aphorism “Gold Assay” for the ways in which it anticipates one of his seminal works, _The Jargon of Authenticity_. Focusing on Auschwitz and the testimony of its survivors, one contributor explores the impact of the Holocaust on modern philosophy and reason, a relationship that he argues Adorno never specified. Another contributor considers the figure of the animal in the writings of Kant, Adorno, and Lévinas, exploring what it might mean to live, as Adorno suggests, as “a good animal.” _Contributors_. J. M. Bernstein, Detlev Claussen, Samir Gandesha, Alexander García Düttmann, Christina Gerhardt, Martin Jay, Robert Kaufman, Michael Marder, Gerhard Richter. (shrink)
Taking on the stigma of inauthenticity : Adorno's critique of genuineness -- Is experience still in crisis? : reflections on a Frankfurt school lament -- Mourning a metaphor: the revolution is over -- Cultural relativism and the visual turn -- Scopic regimes of modernity revisited -- No state of grace : violence in the garden -- Visual parrhesia? : Foucault and the truth of the gaze -- The Kremlin of modernism -- Phenomenology and lived experience -- Aesthetic experience and historical (...) experience : a twenty-first-century constellation -- Still waiting to hear from derrida -- Pseudology : Derrida on Arendt and lying in politics -- The menace of consilience : keeping the disciplines unreconciled -- Can there be national philosophies in a transnational world? -- Straddling a watershed? -- Allons enfants de l'humanité : the French and human rights -- Intellectual family values : William Phillips, Hannah Arendt, and the Partisan review -- Still sleeping rough : Colin Wilson's the outsider at fifty. (shrink)